Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me

Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me ★★★★½

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

In the lead-up to the return to Twin Peaks, I concerned myself with a re-watch of a few favourite episodes and the classic misunderstood Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, of which Lynch himself said is very important to the series' return.

I truly believe the primary reason for the pure vitriol and hate against Fire Walk With Me at the time of its release comes predominantly from the die hard fan base - when they sat down to watch the film they were presented from the very get go with a television screen filled with static, being suddenly and violently smashed with an ax and a woman screaming "NO!". Even on my first viewing, I knew this was Lynch's way of saying "If you're expecting the same soapy campy laced with horror TV show you know and love, you're about to be surprised." What followed was a 40 minute prologue-esque look at the Teresa Banks case a year before Laura Palmer's death, which feels so far removed from Twin Peaks yet also inherently related. Deer Meadow is this uncomfortable, colourless and wholly unfriendly barren town - an inverse of Twin Peaks. By the end of this segment, you're dying to see the familiar faces of the town. So imagine everyone's shock when everyone's favourite FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper barely features in the film whatsoever outside of the film's most puzzling scene and the odd Waiting Room sequence here and there. And once the iconic theme song starts playing and we're greeting with the warm hues of the town, we get the almost startling sight of seeing Laura Palmer walking around and alive - at first it feels wonderful, she sees characters we grew to love over the course of the series (well maybe except James) but once she puts a line of cocaine up her nose - the fuzzy feelings fade. Soon the cinema-goers were about to witness 90 minutes of a pure constant nightmare. This is not that comfortable town that people wanted to tune into every week. So who is honestly surprised that it got such an overwhelmingly negative reception at release? So when I say that this is easily in Lynch's top 3 works he's made, there are likely hundreds of people who will turn their heads and cry blasphemy in disdain.

Fire Walk With Me is a story all about the town from the perspective of Laura Palmer - as mentioned before, a constant waking nightmare. It's a story of trauma, grief, refusing to see the truth, absolution, heartbreak and causality. The film though in tone is more akin in feeling to the scene involving the BOB reveal in Episode 7 of Season 2, is still true to the core of what the show was about. It mightn't be as constantly visually interesting as Lynch's more daring works like Eraserhead or Lost Highway, but it's one of his most substance filled works he's created. It's rife with tension and fear (jesus christ any scene involving Laura and BOB is likely to make people squirm at least just a little bit), but most of all its truly saddening to watch the last days of a young girl who spent most of her life as a victim, and followed dark roads due to the abuse that she spent so much time not wanting to acknowledge beyond her diary and a few people (it's heartbreaking seeing her realise who her abuser is). And that's why I feel Lynch created this film - we spend most of two seasons of the show watching people prod and pry through this young girl's life to find out why she died, only to discover the dark depths her life sunk into. We learnt of her from afar, through the people of the town and the dark side it holds. And so when the film reaches its bone-chilling conclusion, and Laura's spirit sits in the Waiting Room with Cooper's tender hand sitting on her shoulder as the angel she longed and hoped would come to rescue her from her torment appears before, her story truly ends in one of the most cathartic and moving endings I've ever witnessed in cinema. She weeps, smiles, laughs, and releases all the pain and sorrow she ever felt in her life as Angelo Badalamenti's perfect score plays over it all. It's to give peace to an unpeaceful life.

This is just scratching the surface of what Fire Walk With Me has to offer, but it's important to watch this film and understand just why people reacted the way they did, and why now years later it's beginning to receive the credit it is due. If I actually cared about awards and Oscars, then it's an utter crime that Sheryl Lee received absolutely nothing for this film. It's a performance of someone pouring their heart and soul out on to celluloid, and Ray Wise is equally as chilling as Leland Palmer as he was on the show as well. And this is all without discussing what it adds to the mythos and mysteries of the Twin Peaks lore as well - which I imagine frustrated people to no end as it left no answers to the incredible finale of Season 2. The only reason I leave off the extra half a star is because I do believe the opening 40 minutes though entertaining and fascinating, don't entirely tie into the rest of the film as well as it should beyond the ring. Besides that, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me deserves a re-watch from all those who derided it when it came out.

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